As December is peak travel season, most places are booked out to capacity and securing travel arrangements during the festive break is often a costly affair.
But there is beauty in travelling at the start of the year. It’s a great way to cut travel costs as you will be travelling during ‘Janu-worry’, when most people have shifted their focus on returning to work and with children returning to school.
Another benefit is that hotels, flights, tourist attractions and other travel amenities reduce prices and offer deals and discounts to attract more people.
Planning an intimate hideaway during this time also allows you can set your goals and vision for the year. It is an ideal time to recuperate and spend time with loved ones, before you get your year started.
Here are some intimate hideaways to kickstart your new year.
Also known as “Plett”, this is a major attraction on South Africa’s famous Garden Route in the Western Cape.
It’s location on the Indian Ocean makes it one of the country’s top tourist destinations as you can explore miles of sweeping, unspoilt beaches.
There is also a dramatic and rocky peninsula, intriguing lagoons and estuaries, towering indigenous forests and unpolluted rivers to enjoy.
Activities to do include fishing or birding, canoeing Plett’s scenic waterways and looking out for dolphins and seals.
You can stay at Formosa Bay Resort from R1 111 a night for 2.
Boschendal Wine Estate Franschhoek
Franschhoek is one of the most beautiful wine villages in the world.
It also stands out as South Africa’s premier wine and food region. When visiting, you can enjoy family-friendly fun on the farm, indulge in award-winning wine and take culinary adventures.
There are also outdoor activities, first-class facilities and tranquil surroundings. You can also hop on the Franschhoek Wine Tram and visit a variety of wine estates in the region.
A stay at the Retreat cottage on the farm starts R4 680.
Prince Albert is renowned for its long shadows and honey-coloured lights which attract artists, many whose work is available in galleries around town.
Meanwhile, nearby mountain passes and farm roads offer excellent hiking, trail running and cycling experiences.
With a tour guide from the town, you can learn about succulents and fynbos, ghosts, history, or olives.
This intimate hideaway is also perfect for foodies as a range of fresh produce are on sale at the Saturday market.
From fruits, to olive oil, freshly-baked bread, kudu salami and cheeses, there is something to satisfy all palettes.
Consider a stay at Swartberg Hotel from R1 374 a night for two.
Coffee Bay and the Hole in the Wall are practically synonymous as you can’t describe the full extent of the beauty of the Wild Coast without including the natural phenomenons.
The village of Coffee Bay, about eight kilometres down the road from the Hole, is real beachcomber country with rustic lodges and accommodation.
There are also bars, exquisite swimming beaches, as well as fishing and breathtaking hikes. The surrounding countryside is rugged with high cliffs and peppered with distinctive round, thatched, traditional huts made largely from car tyres and coloured bottles.
The Ocean View Hotel offers three-star accommodation from R1 495 for two.
The Midlands Meander in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal is a collection of arranged routes that offer visitors hospitality in truly beautiful surroundings.
There is also outstanding accommodation, fascinating local events, fabulous restaurants, revitalising outdoor activities and over-the-top adventure sports.
Other features include historic landmarks and wildlife conservation.
The Midlands stretches from just beyond Mooi River in the north, to Hilton in the south, Karkloof in the east and the foothills of the Drakensberg in the west.
The FarSide Manor (B&B) and Cottages offers 4-star accommodation starting from R1 252 for 2.
Only a 45 minute drive from Johannesburg, this glorious place is situated among the Magaliesburg Mountain Range and the magnificent Hartbeespoort Dam.
Here you can enjoy a day creating memories with a range of activities and delicious food, and great memories.
You can visit Harties Cableway, where you can experience fantastic panoramic views.
There is also the acclaimed ‘Upside Down House,’ which has become an Instagram hot spot.
El Shadai Guest House and Spa offers affordable accommodation from R1 796 a night for two.
Clarens in the Eastern Free State, between the towering Rooiberge and Maluti Mountains, is one of the most treasured small towns in South Africa.
Affectionately nicknamed the “Jewel of the Free State”, it is popular with art lovers, adventure-seekers and history buffs.
It is a place where jaw-dropping rock formations are commonplace, the verdant countryside seems neve- ending and dinosaurs once roamed the land.
In fact, Clarens is one of the few places in Southern Africa where you can view dinosaur fossils.
You can also go white water rafting along the Ash River, explore the beauty of the Golden Gate National Park, hot air ballooning and ziplining across a lush valley.
A stay at 360 Country Hotel starts from R1 400 a night for two.
Dullstroom in Mpumalanga is a hiker’s paradise, whether you enjoy gentle strolls along the riverbanks or stretching jaunts up rocky escarpments.
Once there, you will find the most breath-taking scenery, while being immersed in the silence and tranquillity of this beautiful location.
The micro-climate found here also provides the perfect conditions for trout to thrive, making Dullstroom one corner of the “Trout Triangle” and one of the “must-visit” fishing hotspots in South Africa.
Blue Crane Farm and Trout Estate offers affordable accommodation from R1 760 a night for two.
Considered the “fun capital” of the KZN South Coast, the idyllic seaside town of Margate really has something for everyone and and is the perfect place to start your new year.
From outdoor experiences in nature reserves and on beaches, as well as great dining and retail offerings, Margate continues to attract travellers.
The KZN South Coast enjoys a subtropical climate and visitors can enjoy the incredible beaches and outdoor offerings found in Margate.
Consider a stay at Margate Beach Club for R935 for two.